Biden, Nato pledge fresh Ukraine aid, membership

Published July 11, 2024
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pose for a picture with NATO allies and partners ahead of a dinner at the White House in Washington, US, July 10, 2024. — Reuters
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pose for a picture with NATO allies and partners ahead of a dinner at the White House in Washington, US, July 10, 2024. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden and leaders of other Nato member states are set to announce new aid and stress a membership pledge for Ukraine at a summit in Washington after Biden promised to defend Kyiv against the Russian invasion.

As Biden welcomed Nato leaders, the United States and Germany announced that the US would start deploying longer-range missiles in Germany in 2026 in an effort to demonstrate its commitment to Nato and European defence.

A joint US-German statement said the “episodic deployments” were in preparation for longer-term stationing of such capabilities that would include SM-6, Tomahawk and developmental hypersonic weapons with a greater range than current capabilities in Europe.

A draft communique prepared for the meeting of the 32-nation alliance said the allies intend to provide Ukraine with minimum funding of 40 billion euros ($43.28bn) in military aid within the next year, but stopped short of the multi-year commitment Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had sought.

Alliance begins sending F-16 jets to Kyiv

The draft, seen by Reuters, also strengthened past Nato language on China, calling it a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and saying Beijing continues to pose systemic challenges to Euro-Atlantic security.

Nato allies announced on Wednesday they had started the long-promised transfer of F-16 jets to Ukraine. The White House followed up by saying that Denmark and the Netherlands had begun sending F-16 jets to Ukraine.

Norwegian premier Jonas Gahr Store said at the Nato summit that Norway will begin delivering six F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine later this year.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the F-16 transfer “concentrates Vladimir Putin’s mind on the fact that he will not outlast Ukraine, he will not outlast us and, if he persists, the damage that will continue to be done to Russia and its interests will only deepen”.

“The quickest way to get to peace is through a strong Ukraine,” Blinken said.

Biden said in a speech on Tuesday that Nato was “stronger than it’s ever been” and that Ukraine can and will stop Russian President Vladimir Putin “with our full, collective support”.

However, November’s US presidential election could presage a sharp change in Washington’s support for Ukraine and Nato. Republican candidate Donald Trump, 78, has questioned the amount of aid given to Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion, and US support for allies generally.

Biden, 81, has faced questions about his fitness for office after fumbling a June 27 debate and hopes the Nato spotlight will help him stage a comeback of sorts, surrounded by allied leaders he has spent his three years in office cultivating.

Uncertainty about US leadership has unsettled Nato allies.

“If there’s one thing that I’m concerned about with the United States, it’s the polarisation of the political climate — it is, I have to admit, very toxic,” Alexander Stubb, president of new Nato ally Finland, told reporters on Wednesday.

“But when I meet 15 senators, as I just did at the Senate, there’s strong bipartisan support for Ukraine and also for Nato.”

While Biden has been seeking to rally allies and domestic support, several high-ranking European officials met a top foreign policy adviser to Trump during the summit.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2024

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